I get this question frequently from buyers wanting to know if they can raise horses, goats, chickens and other animals on their property in Olympia WA and surrounding cities in Thurston County.
To answer this can be a little tricky and may require a trip to the city or county to speak with a planner but here’s how I start my online search when I get asked, “can I have horses, goats or chickens on my property?”
1. Determine if the property is in the city limits.
2. Determine the zoning.
3. Determine if the property is located in a Critical Area.
4. Determine if there is a homeowner’s association with rules that govern the property (CC&Rs).
Here are the websites I use to determine these steps:
1. In Thurston County, we are fortunate to have a powerful website packed with a lot of information about a property. It’s http://www.geodata.org and is accessible to the public.
The easiest way to use geodata.org is to have your parcel number (also known as a tax ID number) of the property in question. If you don’t know the parcel number, you can get it by visiting the Treasurer’s Office at http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/treasurer/index.htm. Copy the parcel number, then go to geodata.org.
Once on geodata.org, look for “Permitting Jurisdiction.” This will tell you if you are in the city or county. In this example, the property is located outside of the city limits and is in the county.
If the property is located in a city, then go to the city’s website and search for the terms “urban agriculture” or “municipal code”. Here are the main cities and their links to learn whether or not animals are allowed to be raised on the property.
City of Lacey: http://www.codepublishing.com/WA/lacey/
City of Tumwater: http://www.codepublishing.com/wa/tumwater/
2. & 3. Also on geodata.org, look for the zoning. If you click on the zoning code, it will bring you to the definition.
Before you leave this site, click on “Zoom Map to Parcel” to pull up the map of the property. From here, you can select layers to show wetlands and other specific critical areas.
Once you know the zoning, go to http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=16720&stateId=47&stateName=Washington
This site also defines and discusses critical areas, which may impact whether or not you can have horses, goats, chickens and other animals on your property. If the property appears to be in a critical area that might limit uses, speak with a planner to get a definitive answer.
4. Determine if there is a homeowner’s association and if they have enforceable CC&Rs (rules of the community). As your Realtor, I can quickly and easily get this information for you. The community rules will address what types of animals are allowed, for what purposes, and how many.
This is a start to find out the permitted uses for a property, not only if you can have animals but for other uses as well. But I recommend to all my clients, this online research is a start; be sure to speak with the county or city planner to determine, with certainty, the uses for your property.
If you are looking to purchase property in Olympia WA where you can raise horses, goats and chickens, call me today to help you find your perfect homestead for you and your animals!